In the winter before the 2014 season, the Seattle Mariners signed free agent second baseman Robinson Cano, formerly of the New York Yankees, to a 10-year, $240 million contract. With that deal, Cano became one of the first star players to leave the Yankees in his prime to sign a big free agent deal with another team.
Now, five years later, the Mariners appear ready to cut bait on Cano – and he could be headed back to his former team.
The Mariners, who have been very active this offseason, have been reaching out to other teams about Cano, according to a report by Ken Rosenthal for The Athletic. Seattle general manager Jerry DiPoto has reached out both to the Yankees and the Mets about acquiring the highly-compensated second baseman.
As pointed out by Rosenthal, moving Cano won’t be an easy task for the Mariners. Not only is he 36-years-old, but Cano is owed $120 million over the remaining five years of his contract, and he possesses a no-trade clause, meaning he has the power to veto trades. In addition, Cano served an 80-game suspension last season after testing positive for a banned substance under baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy. That means he’ll be looking at an even longer suspension should he test positive a second time.
Cano did bat 0.303 in the 2018 season, with 10 home runs and an OPS of 0.845, per Baseball Reference, so he’s still a decent player at the plate, albeit not one relative to how much he’s being paid. Therefore, as Rosenthal reported, the Mariners would likely need to eat at least some a portion of his salary in any trade.
The Mariners engaged in talks last year to trade Cano back to the Yankees in exchange for one of that team’s own free agency mistakes, Jacoby Ellsbury, although those discussions fell apart over disagreements on how much money Seattle would need to kick in. The Mariners and Yankees have already made one trade this offseason, with Seattle sending ace pitcher James Paxton to New York.
Shortly after he signed with the Mariners, Cano participated in a memorable segment on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. In the bit, which aired before Cano’s first game back in New York with Seattle, Yankee fans were invited to boo and shout invective at a cardboard picture of Cano – upon which the actual Cano emerged.
Since most of those Yankee fans hugged him, it’s perhaps a sign Cano would be welcomed back to New York in the event of a trade to the Yankees.